Kid on Bike Violence Demands Community Solutions

Kid on Bike Violence Demands Community Solutions

There always seems to be a story about this, some bored kids with nowhere to go and nothing to do decide to entertain themselves by tormenting an anonymous person on a bike, or on foot, or in cars.

There was a rash of brick throwers in DC a couple of years back, and this past weekend some more kids throwing bricks on the South Side of Pittsburgh. The biker was hit and suffered a massive gash to his head, but luckily was not killed. (Interestingly, the Post-Gazette said that the bicycle rider “drove under a trestle”)

Last year while riding my bike on the highway-esque Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast DC, a gaggle of kids pelted me with hot water balloons, knocking me off my bike into the lane of fast-moving traffic. Luckily (again), the driver in the lane wasn’t texting and reacted quickly enough to swerve and avoided hitting me.

I called the police, somewhat reluctantly and they answered the call even more reluctantly. The car-bound officers shrugged, saying that there was nothing they could do. The kids had all scattered and I wasn’t really hurt, after all, was I?

Warm weather seems to infuse bored children with the passion to fling heavy objects at cyclists or pedestrians or cars.

I wish I had some better ideas to share, but all I have are questions and frustration.

Are there any solutions?

  1. Better engagement for kids? Video games, television, and the news perpetuate the concept of violence as a culturally appropriate response to conflict resolution as well as presenting it as entertaining.
  2. Better police response? I don’t think this is the right one. The U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rate, according to a study by the King’s College of London at 756 per 100,000 and has 23.4% of the world prison population. “Correctional facilities” seem to “correct” little except the number of people that are part of their communities and raising their families.
  3. More community and parental involvement? Nice sounding but how to actually implement this? Even families with two parent incomes are being continuously squeezed in this economy leaving many kids alone to entertain and raise themselves.
  4. Education? (“Rocks hurt!”? Nope.)
  5. More places for kids to play? I grew up playing kickball on my street nearly every day but many streets are too dangerous for kids and many drivers are too reckless, eliminating huge swaths of cities as potential grounds for play.

Any ideas?


9 thoughts on “Kid on Bike Violence Demands Community Solutions

  1. Well if they’re going to insist on being violent, perhaps water guns? I can’t imagine a cyclist being terribly upset at a cool spray of water on a hot day. 😉

    I’m not sure that even if the streets were safe for kids to play, that they would. This is the TV-junk food-video game generation. And considering the sad state of physical education in many districts, how many know how to play kickball? Or double-dutch.

    But you talk about education and better engagement/entertainment. Perhaps youtube to disseminate PSAs? Kids seem to learn about the choking game and beatdowns from the internet. Maybe we should provide some alternate fun ideas. Ya know, fun that isn’t sociopathic.

    1. I like what the Scraper Bike Kids are doing in Oakland:
      The Scraper Bike Movement seeks to capture the creativity of youth living within dangerous communities. It gives them a positive outlet that is fun, educational, and promotes healthy lifestyles. The Scraper Bike Movement offers youth a sustainable group of peers that is positive and motivating. We want to expand and enlighten young peoples perspective on life through fixing and painting bicycles. Our goal is to support youth entrepreneurship and cultural innovation.

  2. Bricks? Seriously, I’m guessing the parents are not so engaged in the rearing of their kids. It’s not just about being engaged. It’s about instilling values in them (saying and showing). Without those values, what does it matter to the teens?

    I would have to say that since there are already street cams out there tagging cars who speed through the red lights, why don’t they do that on overpasses where there is a high incidence level of bored kids targeting people on bikes/in cars.

  3. Thanks for making me feel better after I just got hit by a water balloon while I was riding on my bicycle! I am a grandmother and was coming back from visiting my new twin baby grandsons. Ironically, I actually live in a city where they have been doing more “bike-friendly” things like creating bike lanes, etc., to encourage riding a bike.

    I was just a few doors down from my house, riding along thinking how great life was, when I was suddenly hit on the back. It startled me and I didn’t even know at first what had happened. A car sped by and then I felt all wet and realized that I had been hit by a water balloon.

    I was so shaken up by the experience that I started to cry! It was just so upsetting to think that someone would do that for no reason at all. thank goodness I didn’t fall off my bike. I still shake my head over it.

    I am definitely starting to feel OLD when I think what a sad world we live in that this is the kinds of things our youth are doing to entertain themselves.

    It made me very angry and I wanted to see if this is something that happens to others and I found this blog so at least now I know I’m not the only person upset by this kind of absurd activity. thanks for listening!

    1. Wow, Christie, that is horrendous. You are certainly not the only one. There is a fierce debate raging on the Bike Pittsburgh forum right now about these issues. What are legitimate responses? What are possible causes? Are there ways to address this violence at the source?

      I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you. What city do you ride in? Have things like this happened to other people in your town?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s